Cultural anthropology has strong links to archaeology, the study of material culture, that is, how artifacts carry information about the societies and physical environment in which they were made. These fields are linked in turn to physical anthropology, the study of human evolution. Cultural anthropology is based on ethnography, the on-site study of what people do and how they do it. Ethnography is roughly organized in terms of area: ethnographic areas covered by anthropology faculty include China, India, native North America (i.e. North American Indians) and the contemporary U.S. Within these areas, members of the faculty cover economic systems, nationalism, race, gender, psychology and language (see also Archeology).
100-level cultural anthropology courses are broad introductions to the issues examined by anthropologists. Anthropology 113 (Cultural Anthropology) offers a general survey of social structure, political and economic principles and belief systems in societies ranging from the relatively small and face-to-face to the complex. The course examines the operation of fundamental cultural categories (space, time, race, language, relations, identity, body, gender, sexuality, fashion and/or food) and the ways in which key anthropological concepts have emerged through its debates.
Courses with a linguistics focus examine the nature of language, how it becomes part of culture, how forms and uses of language take on cultural and social meaning, and how inequality is reflected in language.
Why study cultural anthropology? We all live in complex cultural and social worlds. Anthropology provides frameworks in which to see and understand the diversities of practice, belief and language that make up our complex global systems.
Archaeology courses provide opportunities to explore the human past and learn how cultural history is recovered through the study of artifacts. Contemporary archaeology is a highly varied field of study. It potentially considers any instance of material culture that preserves some record of past behaviors in any geographic area or any time period, from the beginnings of tool use around 2.5 million years ago through the industrial era. Moreover, while archaeology is generally viewed as a field discipline, it is as much at home in the laboratory, where technical approaches often adopted from allied disciplines are enlisted to interpret the artifact record.
Archaeology courses are part of the general offerings of the Anthropology Department. The first archaeology course a student takes is Arch 106. Arch 106 emphasizes the study of archaeological methods that have been developed to interpret the artifact record. To heighten exposure to artifacts and the methods for studying them, this course contains laboratory exercises. The course also has a component dedicated to the examination of the fossil record toward the exploration of evolutionary relationships among human ancestors, and considers the development of technologies and human achievements during and after the last ice age. We also encourage interested students to take an introductory course in one of the other anthropological disciplines. While the different areas of anthropology share many of the same interests in the development of human cultural variation, by virtue of the phenomena each studies--e.g., artifacts, behavior, ideas, and language—they are quite different.
Those students with a deep interest in archaeology should not miss the opportunity to apply their knowledge in the field. Arch 280/281 is a six-week field course offered during the summer on a biennial schedule. Joining Hamilton faculty members in interior British Columbia, students learn a wide variety of data recovery techniques while investigating the emergence of village life in the region.
Students who study archaeology benefit from course work in allied fields. Not only do we encourage study in cultural anthropology, but also we strongly recommend that students take courses in geology and other sciences. Doing so enhances a student’s analytic capabilities, but such breadth of study also encourages a better informed perspective of how humans relate to their environment and to one another, economically, socially and ideologically, through material culture. For those students whose interests concern the relationships between humans and the environment, we particularly recommend introductory courses in geology. In fact, Hamilton encourages this interdisciplinary focus through a concentration in Geoarchaeology.
Principles of Social and Cultural Anthropology.
Cross-cultural approaches to the study of such topics as inequality, polity, language, economic behavior, the body, and other categorical distinctions emergent from human practice. Exposure to anthropological theory, methods, and ethnography. Not open to seniors. Chaise LaDousa.
Humor: Culture, Interaction, and Politics.
Introduces the benefits of considering theoretical approaches, research methodologies, and data together and as interrelated in the production of anthropological scholarship. Stresses the gendered, racialized, and classed dimensions of humor, and the ways the exploration of such dimensions affords insights to questions about inequality, but also the possibilities of conscious reflection and subversion. Maximum enrollment, 16. Chaise LaDousa.
Stuff: Materiality and Inequality.
This course fulfills the SSIH requirement for Anthropology and Archaeology concentrators. In keeping with the history of U.S. four-field anthropology, it examines the social origins of inequality through the lenses of material culture and technologies of production, labor and social structure, and hierarchy. The topical foci of the course will be developed around a contemporary issue or event. The course will engage students from both tracks, emphasizing the shared interest in material culture analysis and issues of labor, inequality, and political economy. Prerequisite, Prerequisites Arch 106, Anthr 113, or permission of instructor. Maximum enrollment, Other. Department.
Linguistic Theory: A Brief History.
A general examination of the nature of language. Topics include the history of ideas about language; philosophical and cognitive aspects of language; evolutionary, structural and generative approaches to the analysis of language. (Writing-intensive.) (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 126, 127 or consent of instructor. (Same as Linguistics 201.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Department.
Globalization and the City: An Anthropological Interrogation.
Examines why and how the city has taken on renewed focus as “site” in which contemporary global processes take place. Draws on anthropological literature and films on urbanization to provide theoretical foundations and empirical case studies to critically respond to the question: What does the globalization of the city look like? Students will choose their own city upon which to conduct secondary research drawing from scholarly articles, news media sources, and documentary film archives to create short essay films that illustrate how global processes reshape their selected urban locale. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology or consent of instructor. Arjun Shankar.
Anthropology of Muslim Youth.
Investigates the social experiences and mediatized representations of Muslim youth through ethnography and multimodal artifacts. Emphasizes deconstructing the semiotics of the “Muslim” figure in public discourse to understand, and critique, how this construction leads to various forms of anti-Muslim racism, but also attending to the forms of response and resistance from Muslim youth. Prerequisite, Anth 113. Maximum enrollment, 12. Mariam Durrani.
Phonetics and Phonology: The Analysis of Sound.
How the sounds of language are produced. The structure of sound systems in a variety of languages (including non-European). Organization of field projects: data collection, transcription analysis. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Same as Linguistics 225.)
Anthropology of China.
This course introduces students to social issues in contemporary China as seen through the lens of anthropological analysis. Through reading ethnographies, watching films, and engaging in classroom discussions, we will examines topics such as the individualization of China and consumer identity, censorship and emerging forms of social media, urbanization and migrant labor, the one-child policy and changing family values, and economic development and environmental degradation. Prerequisite, One course in anthropology or consent of instructor. Julie Starr.
Communication and Culture.
In this course, we will examine the role that communicative processes play in shaping common conceptions of the world and in facilitating forms of social organization through which people experience everyday life. This course offers an introduction to the foundational relationship between language and culture by examining anthropological approaches to the study of language. In this course, you will learn how language both reflects and creates thought, culture, and power relations. You will also learn how to apply the concepts we study to your own everyday experiences with language. Prerequisite, Anthropology 113. (Same as Linguistics 234.) Mariam Durrani.
Language, Gender and Sexuality.
Stresses special lessons that anthropology has to teach about the gendered facets of linguistic expression, including the necessity of an approach that is both empirical, including moments of interaction, and critical, exploring issues of power and agency. Considers conceptual benefits and limitations to using gendered difference as a model for sexual difference in the study of linguistic expression. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology or consent of instructor. (Same as Linguistics 257 and Women's and Gender Studies 257 and Sociology 257.)
Digital Technology and Social Transformation.
Examines some of the ways in which digital technologies have been imagined to be important to social change, transformation, or innovation. Proponents of the use of digital technologies toward social change have focused on their speed, connectivity, and capacity. The course will introduce some of these arguments, will review some critiques of these arguments, and will suggest – via ethnographic cases – that digital technologies, like all sociocultural forms, should be studied with careful attention to contextual concerns. Prerequisite, One 100-level course in Anthropology or consent of instructor. Chaise LaDousa.
Performing Life: Introduction to Performance Studies.
This course introduces the field of performance studies, examining performance in diverse contexts, from everyday life (sports, rituals, politics, television) to more formal settings (theatre, dance, visual art). Performance studies asks “What is performance, and how can we make sense of it?” The field incorporates aspects of theatre history, theory, and practice; anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies. No performance training is required or expected, but students will participate in a variety of hands-on exercises, and will attend and analyze several events. Prerequisite, Theatre 100, or consent of instructor. (Same as Theatre 261.)
Political Ecology of Tourism.
This course explores the environmental implications of the global tourism industry. Case studies of tourism in the Caribbean and East Asia offer perspectives on environmental histories of tourism; the political ecology of consumption; and problems of cultural authenticity and place-making. Students will draw on ethnographic and policy-based readings. By studying the patterns and governance of one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, students will investigate "tourism" as both a cause and effect of globalization and its attendant localization movements. (Same as Environmental Studies 263.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Andrea Murray.
Ethnography of Literacy and Visual Language.
Theory and analysis of communication and meaning in social and cultural context with particular attention devoted to the often-neglected aspects of literate communication. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 113, 114, 115, 126, 127, or 201, or consent of instructor. (Same as Linguistics 264.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Ladousa.
Dialects of American English.
This course examines the dialects of English used in the United States. Topics covered will include language variation, language change, regional dialects, social and ethnic dialects, gender and language variation, style, applied dialectology, and ideologies of language (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Meredith Moss.
The Ethnography of Communication.
Theory and analysis of communication and meaning in social and cultural context. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 113, 114, 115, 126, 127 or 201, or consent of instructor. (Same as Linguistics 270.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
Anthropology of Food.
This course examines how culturally variant practices of food and eating are actively involved in (1) creating and maintaining sociality, (2) constructing and reinforcing identity, and (3) in shaping global relations of power and inequalities. Through reading ethnographies, watching films, and discussing materials in class, this course will introduce you to other ways of viewing, experiencing, and understanding food. It will also provide an opportunity to inquire how our role as consumers reinforces certain global food-ways, impacting many people who remain unseen in the process. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 113, 127, or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Julie Starr.
Curiosity: An Ethnographic Approach.
Examines education as a site to analyze shifting cultural, political, and economic processes. The course will use the concept of curiosity as a fulcrum by which to dig into these debates: who can be curious, about what, when, and why? What are the economic, political, and social processes that enable or constrain curiosity for different populations? Students will create podcasts based on fieldwork across Hamilton’s campus. They will use ethnographic techniques to identify the manifestations of curiosity while learning the tenants of rapport building, ethics, and research-based narrative. Prerequisite, EDUC 200 or permission of instructor. (Same as Education Studies 308.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Arjun Shankar.
Crossings and Transgressions: On Migration and (Im)Mobilities.
The current global moment is marked by border-crossings and border-transgressions where not only people are on the move, but also ideas and images about them. The refugee, the migrant, the domestic worker and the terrorist—itinerant figures of different orders—inspire narratives about what constitutes “human nature” and inhumane practices. This course explores the multiple meanings of mobility and stasis by examining the (dis)placements and circulations of people, things, and ideas along with the (folk)tales that accompany migration and related discourses on race, gender, and sexuality. Prerequisite, Anth 113 or approval by instructor. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 310.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Mariam Durrani.
Youth and Cultural Reproduction.
The notion of youth as a lifespan period has grown in salience and pervasiveness in the world. Explores three major aspects of social scientists’ attention to youth: as a category to probe intersections among culture, aesthetics, and class in post-industrial societies; as a means for imagining the relationship between colonial and post-colonial forms of governance; and as a means for tracing the flows of capital among nation-states. Youth thus provides us with a window into pressing concerns in late-20th and early-21st century social science. Prerequisite, 100-level anthropology course or consent of instructor. (Same as Education Studies 311.)
Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality in China.
This course discusses the transformations in Chinese notions of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality from 1949 to the present. We will explore topics such as defining, naming, and preserving ethnic identity and culture; changing notions of femininity and masculinity; emerging forms of gendered inequality; and the growing importance of sex work and sex-at-work while considering the interrelationship between such phenomena and the broader political, economic, and social developments in 21st-century China. Prerequisite, 113, 127, or consent of the instructor. Julie Starr.
Body, Self, and Health: China and the Biomedical.
Considers the specificity of local medical systems and the way they are entangled with culturally variant ideas about bodies, food, and health. Draws on ethnographic examples of from East Asia, the U.S., and the Pacific, to study the ways that medical traditions (including biomedicine) establish themselves as social institutions and as sources of authoritative knowledge. Covers topics such as: local theories of well-being; disease causation and healing efficacy; authoritative knowledge; theories of embodiment; and food-as-medicine. Prerequisite, One anthropology course or consent of instructor. Julie Starr.
Anthropology of Education.
Examines the school as a site for the reconstruction of cultural difference. Special attention paid to links between schooling and the nation, to connections between schooling and modernity, and to themes such as discipline, value, gender, language and labor. Examples from Bolivia, Tanzania, India and the United States, among other nation-states. Concludes with a consideration of globalization, specifically the rise in neoliberal approaches in the governance of school systems. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology or consent of instructor. (Same as Education Studies 318.)
Verbal Art and Performance.
Traces historical shifts in oral performance-based approaches to the study of verbal art. Probes connections between verbal art and notions of tradition, authenticity and heritage — the local and the national. Introduces emerging work in feminist, critical and reflexive stances in scholarship on verbal art. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology or consent of instructor.
Semiotics of Liberal Arts Education.
Examination of liberal arts education as a social institution: its history, institutional structure, social location, and cultural meaning. Particular attention to tensions between its economic and prestige dimensions. Ethnographic accounts and analyses of various aspects of student life, teaching, administration, admissions, and development. Prerequisite, Any Anthropology course, or Sociology 211, or consent of instructor. Urciuoli.
Globalization and African Diaspora in Europe.
Europe is a contested site of identity, citizenship and belonging where postcolonial populations have become increasingly visible. Focusing on the lives people of African descent and the border between Europe and Africa, explores globalization in contemporary Europe while examining such issues as economic and political restructuring, border politics, colonial legacies, national and ‘hybrid’ identity, transnationalism, the meaning of ‘home’, humanitarianism and refugees, European immigration policies and detention spaces, and the politics of fear. (Proseminar.) (Same as Africana Studies 328.) Maximum enrollment, 16.
Visual and Media Anthropology.
This class looks at the social and cultural life of the media by taking seriously anthropological discussions of visuality, imagemaking, and representations of the ''Other''. We will focus on ideas and debates regarding media production, circulation, and consumption, paying special attention to both the visual regimes that delimit what kinds of images/films accrue value globally and how populations that are on the margins participate in, trope on, and resist stereotypic renderings of who they are in the world. Prerequisite, Anthropology course or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Shankar, Arjun.
History of Anthropological Ideas.
A consideration of major paradigms in anthropology from the 19th century to the present. The influence of various theoretical perspectives on ethnographic and archaeological description and analysis. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 106, 113, 114, 115, 126 or 127. Maximum enrollment, 20. Goodale and LaDousa.
Sociolinguistics of Globalization.
Explores the relationship between language variation and change, on the one hand, and the movement of sound and image in the wake of social and political economic processes variously identified as globalization, on the other hand. Of special concern are the ways in which processes of globalization are mediated by institutional and national forms. Prerequisite, One course in anthropology or by instructor approval.
Senior Seminar in Cultural Anthropology.
The research process as it relates to the fulfillment of the senior project, including the formulation of a research problem, frames for research, research design, collection of data and cultural analysis. department.
Senior Thesis Project in Cultural Anthropology.
The research process as it relates to the fulfillment of the senior project, including the revision of the draft created during the senior seminar and extension of cultural analysis. Honors in the concentration partly depends on an A- or higher in the course. department.
Principles of Archaeology.
An introduction to the fundamentals of archaeology, with emphasis on human biological and cultural records. Topics include a review of archaeological field methods such as sampling, survey and excavation, and analytic methods such as dating, typology and formation processes. Three hours of class with lab exercises embedded within that time. Occasionally two sections of this course are offered. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, 24. Department.
Archaeology of Hamilton's Founding.
As an archaeological canvas, Hamilton College provides oral tradition and integrates historical documents. Its archaeological record on the lands it occupies within Northeastern North America can be peeled back in layers, focusing on both prehistoric and historic components from the first peoples in the area, the influence of Samuel Kirkland, and changes in the College over its history. Includes excavation of an archaeological site on the campus, several field trips to local historical societies and use of College archives. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Nathan Goodale.
Household Archaeology: Daily Life in the Past and Present.
Houses and the people we share them with play a central role in human society, shaping relationships and identities. Household studies focus on the house or dwelling itself as a way to understand the individuals, families, and activities that make up our daily lives. This class explores how houses and the strategies of daily life are integral to some of the most transformative sociopolitical change in the ancient and more recent past. Maximum enrollment, 24. Carpenter, Lacey.
Landscapes: People, Place, and the Past.
This course explores the deep histories of economic, socio-political, and ritual landscapes, and the tools that archaeologists use to study them. Landscapes, as both physical and cultural entities, are important spaces for human interaction. Archaeologists are uniquely positioned to examine the relationships among people, place, and the environment in the past. This course will link archaeological landscapes to modern issues of development, human-environment interaction, and social change. Prerequisite, 106 or consent of instructor. (Same as Environmental Studies 218.) Maximum enrollment, 24. Colin Quinn.
Archaeology of Death.
While death is a human universal, the ways societies deal with death, bodies, and burial vary greatly. This course explores mortuary practices through the archaeological record and what they can tell us about ritual, social, economic, and ideological institutions in the past. Prerequisite, Arch 106 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 24. Quinn, Colin.
North American Prehistory.
The history of Native American cultural development north of the Rio Grande prior to European contact. Topics include the timing and effects of human entry into North America, ice-age adaptations, plant and animal domestication, agriculture and beginnings of complex societies. Prerequisite, 106 or consent of instructor.
A review of the biological and cultural evolution of humans. Topics include human uniqueness, race and biological diversity, the earliest humans in Africa, radiations of fossil and modern humans. Prerequisite, One course in Archaeology, Biology, or Geoscience. Maximum enrollment, 24. Quinn.
The Archaeology of Continental Discovery.
Explores the social, organizational and environmental consequences of initial human colonization of unoccupied landscapes. Examined through case studies, including initial colonization of Australia and North America, and the voyaging expansion of people across Pacific islands. Also addresses the consequences of European "rediscovery" of these areas for native peoples and environment. Quinn.
Humans lived as hunter-gatherers for 99% of our evolutionary past. Today, just a small fraction of the world’s population lives as hunter-gatherers and that number is rapidly decreasing due to modernization. Anthropologists and archaeologists are interested in studying the adaptive range of modern hunter-gatherers in order to help interpret the archaeological record. Explores the ethnographic and archaeological study of hunting and gathering with a focus on analogy and inference developed in ethnoarchaeology and behavioral ecology. Prerequisite, 106 or consent of instructor. Goodale.
The Archaeology of Hamilton's Founding.
As an archaeological canvas, Hamilton College provides oral tradition and integrates historical documents. Its archaeological record on the lands it occupies within Northeastern North America can be peeled back in layers, focusing on both prehistoric and historic components from the first peoples in the area, the influence of Samuel Kirkland, and changes in the College over its history. Includes excavation of an archaeological site on the campus, several field trips to local historical societies and use of College archives. Prerequisite, 106. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Archaeology Field Course I.
A three- to four-week introduction to archaeological field techniques, including excavation, survey and mapping. Conducted in conjunction with field research programs of faculty. Prerequisite, 106 or consent of instructor. Extra cost. Maximum enrollment, 8.
Archaeology Field Course II.
A three- to four-week session building on training in archaeological field techniques received in Archaeology 281. Conducted in conjunction with field research programs of faculty Prerequisite, 281. Extra cost. Does not count toward the concentration in archaeology or cultural anthropology. Maximum enrollment, 8.
Analytic Methods in Archaeology.
A survey of analytic techniques central to archaeological and paleoecological interpretation. Laboratory performance of artifact analysis and classification, computer-aided data management and statistical analysis. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 106. (Same as Geoarchaeology 325.) Maximum enrollment, 8. Quinn.
Method and Theory in Archaeology.
An examination of the historical development of modern methodological and theoretical approaches and problems in American archaeology. Space-time frameworks, typology, form and function, research design, evolutionary, ecological and behavioral theory. Prerequisite, 106. Maximum enrollment, 24. Goodale.
Geographic Information Systems.
Concepts in computer-based GIS emphasizing hands-on practice in portraying and analyzing spatially referenced data sets to produce a variety of types of digital products and to solve geospatial problems. Practice using data from multiple sources, including data downloaded from online sources, field-collected data and published map data. Emphasis on mastery of basic skills and techniques using ESRI ArcGIS software. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, 15. Nathan Goodale.
Senior Seminar in Archaeology.
Critical evaluation of selected topics in archaeology. Primary research, culminating in a paper for fulfillment of the senior project. department.
Senior Thesis Project in Archaeology.
Continuation of participation in Archaeology 551 with revision and expansion of the senior thesis. Honors in the concentration is partly dependent on an A- or better in the course. Department.